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WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this blog post includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress, particularly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In particular, I acknowledge the Aboriginal ancestors whose words are quoted within this post, with the greatest respect for their legacy.

There’s much confusion as to who were the first people of Beechworth and the surrounding areas. In this post I intend to lay out the historical evidence for which Aboriginal local group occupied the Beechworth area, the Pallanganmiddang.

Firstly, some clarifications…

Before leaping into this post, I would like to state clearly that in my opinion, how Aboriginal people choose to define their particular ‘clan’, ‘tribe’ and ‘country’ (or any other group category), in the present day is solely a matter for Aboriginal people, not to be defined by non-Aboriginal historians. However, historical information furnished by historians (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike) may still be of interest to Aboriginal people, particularly as it contains the voices of their ancestors. As with any history ever written, what I present here is a historical (and linguistic) interpretation, supported by evidence; and my interpretation is open to debate if it is likewise supported by evidence.

The principal historical evidence that I will draw upon in this post will be the oral testimony of Aboriginal people, as told to various Europeans (mainly government officials) in the mid to late 19th century. I will do my best to privilege Aboriginal voices as they appear in historical documents, as I place a lot of weight on these ancestral voices. While it is true that the documents themselves have been created by Europeans, it is possible to discern when an Aboriginal person has related something directly to the author of a document, as opposed to the author’s later speculations, or speculations by other Europeans who have related information to a document’s author.

There are many interpretive considerations to take into account when reading historical documents in order to determine which Aboriginal groups existed and what country they belonged to, but for the sake of this blog post, I will point out this one major consideration: that in all the historical documents available in which there are Aboriginal people talking with Europeans about North East Victoria, Aboriginal people tend to identify first and foremost the names of what are now widely referred to as ‘clans’. A ‘clan’ can be considered a smaller ‘local group’ within what is colloquially known as a ‘tribe’. I will refer to them here as ‘local groups’, and ‘tribes’ as ‘broader groups’. Local groups appear to have been the principal unit of identity from an Aboriginal point of view — as least in terms of defining land ownership.

Finally, people unused to reading Victorian Aboriginal local group and broader group names may find this post a bit mind-boggling. For now, the post is necessarily argued in detail so that the sources of the information are as transparent as I can make them. I apologise if this makes the post difficult to read.

Pallanganmiddang, the people of Beechworth and surrounds

The local group historically associated with modern-day Beechworth, and in fact a much wider surrounding area, was the Pallanganmiddang. There are various ways in which their name is spelled in historical texts. Sometimes it begins with a B rather than a P, because Europeans apparently struggled to transcribe the sound ‘Bp’. Sometimes the local group name is given the suffixes ‘-illum’ and/or ‘-balluk’ (used by the ‘Kulin’ ‘tribes’ from the Broken River down to Melbourne) rather than the local group suffix common to local groups of north-east of Victoria and the southern Wiradjuri ‘-mittang’ or ‘-middang’. In both cases these suffixes (as Theddora woman Jenny Cooper related to anthropologist Alfred Howitt) simply meant ‘a group of people’. [1a]

Anyone reading the historical documents will soon notice that the name Pallanganmiddang has a number of ‘cognates’ (linguistically, a different spelling with the same etymological origin): Ballŭng-kara-mittang-bula, Ballinggon-willum, Bal.lin.go.yal.lum, Pallingoilum, Pallanganmiddang, Pallanganmiddah, Pallengoinmitty, Pal.lum.gy.mit.um, and so on. Although it may be difficult to grasp, ‘Pallanganmiddang’ and its cognates are not linguistically the same as ‘Bpangerang’. For the sake of making this post easier to read, I have put the various cognates of Pallanganmiddang in bold throughout the text.

The Pallanganmiddang was recognised as a local group by William Barak, ngurungaeta (respected head) of the Wurundjeri-willam local group (Melbourne area). When interviewed by anthropologist Alfred Howitt in the late 19th century, Barak stated that the local group associated with Wangaratta was the ‘Ballŭng-kara-mittang-bula‘. Incidentally, Barak separated this local group from the Bpangerang by stating that the ‘Baingerang’ were associated geographically with Echuca. Barak also provided an indication of the boundary of Pallanganmiddang country to the south by stating that the Yeerŭn-illŭm-ballŭk local group (a local group of the Taungurung ‘tribe’ or broad group) were associated with a ‘big swamp Below Benalla’. [1b] This geographical descriptor definitely associates the Yeerŭn-illŭm with Benalla, and perhaps also with the big swamp now known as Winton Wetlands (although this is not ‘below’ Benalla according to cardinal points), or more likely the symbolically important waterhole ‘Marangan’ (which now forms Lake Benalla).* Importantly, this raw information appears in Alfred Howitt’s primary interview notes with Barak, which are entirely free of Howitt’s subsequent interpretations and categorisations, as seen in his The Native Tribes of South East Australia (1904).

[*Since originally writing this post I have found quite a few references to Marangan indicating its cultural significance, and I now think it more likely that Barak was referring to Marangan when he spoke to Howitt of a ‘big swamp’. — 29 May 2020]

The Pallanganmiddang were also recognised by Kulin people who gave information to Assistant Protector of Aborigines William Thomas in Melbourne in the early to mid-1840s. One or more Kulin men told Thomas that ‘The Goulborne Tribes comprehend 6 sections’; and list these sections (local groups), and the geographical localities for each local group (the geographical locality denoted mainly by the names of the pastoralists who held stations on that local group’s country). Thus the last of these six sections listed by Thomas’s informant/s was the ‘Ballinggon willum Dr Mackey, Mr Wendberg &c’. [2] This ‘Ballinggon-willum’ clan (or as Barak would have it, ‘Ballŭng-Kara-mittang’), is associated with a surprisingly accurate geographical descriptor, that of the pastoral run of ‘Dr Mackey’. At the time of Thomas’s writing, there was only one pastoralist with a station in the whole of the Port Phillip district with the name ‘Dr Mackey’, which was Dr George Edward Mackay at Whorouly.

The inclusion of ‘Ballinggon-willum‘ as comprising one of the six sections (local groups) of the Goulburn tribe (ie: Taungurung), is of interest — not least to the modern day Taungurung clans, but this is an issue which cannot be taken at face value, given the complexities of social relations between the Pallanganmiddang and several Kulin clans — especially as Thomas excluded them from his later 1858 list of Kulin nation peoples. For now, let us note that other Taungurung clans are absent from the same list: Leuk-willam, Moomoomgoondeet, Nattarak-bulluck and Waring-illum-balluk, and that these absences make it at best an incomplete if not inaccurate list. [3]

Pallanganmiddang local group was also recognised by Taungurung people (around Mansfield/Delatite River). When travelling through Taungurung country, Chief Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, spoke with Taungurung  people who provided him with a list of local groups occupying adjoining country (on 1 June 1840) [4]. Contained within this list, headed, ‘Vocabulary: Goulburn blacks at Mt. Buller and Crossing Place, May 1840’ is the clear statement ‘Pal.lin.go.mit.tite: this last [local group] at the junction of the Ovens’. The ‘junction of the Ovens,’ which was familiar to all ‘overlanders’ at this time was the junction of the Ovens River with the King River, at Wangaratta. Also contained within the vocabulary information is a numbered list of adjoining local groups [my clarification of modern-day spellings and localities in square brackets]:

‘1. Tin.ne.mit.tum; [Djinning-mittang, Mitta Mitta Valley]
2. Moke.al.lum.be; [Mogullumbidj, Mount Buffalo]
3. Peer.eng.ile: are the Ware.rag.ger.re; [‘Ware.rag.ger.re’ may be Wiradjuri]
4. Pal.lum.gy.mit.um: at Dow.koy.yong; to the NE of Mt Battery’

In this list, Robinson records the Pal.lum.gy.mit.um, at ‘Dow.koy.ong’, North East of Mount Battery. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a present-day Dow.koy.yong. North-east of Mount Battery is the location of present-day town of Barwite, and further in that same direction in the ranges, lies the upper reaches of the King Valley.  So it would seem that ‘Dow.koy.ong’ is either at Barwite, Tolmie, or in the upper King Valley. 

This information constitutes almost* as much as I could find that is on record that the Kulin peoples had to say about the Pallanganmiddang and their location: that they existed, and their country included Wangaratta, the King Valley, and Whorouly. As Kulin country lay to the south of Pallanganmiddang country (speaking in broad terms and leaving aside whether Pallanganmiddang were in fact also Kulin), it makes sense that Kulin people spoke about the southern extent of that country.

[*I am currently re-examining some statements made by Taungurung to Robinson in the Upper Broken River Valley. — JD 20 August 2020]

And now we must turn to what the Pallanganmiddang had to say about themselves and their country. Much of what is recorded of what Pallanganmiddang people had to say directly was recorded by the Chief Protector of Aborigines George Augustus Robinson, on three separate visits (April 1840, February 1841, and September 1844) to north-east Victoria. In particular, the visit of February 1841 was associated with Robinson escorting some Aboriginal men, who had been gaoled in Melbourne for an attack on Mackay’s station in May 1840, home — a journey on which he became quite closely acquainted with a young Pallanganmiddang man, Mul.lo.nin.ner (a.k.a. ‘Joe’).

Robinsons’ visit of April 1840: Robinson’s first encounter with some Pallanganmiddang people was at ‘Brodribb’s station’ at the Broken River (present-day Benalla), on Monday 20 April 1840. Robinson records that he has met 10 men of four different local groups, including [my clarification of modern-day spellings and localities in square brackets]:
‘1. Bal.lin.go.yal.lums, a section of the Ovens tribe, called I believe Wee.her.roo (queri); [Waywurru/Waveroo]
2. The Buth.er.rer.bul.luc, a section of the Tar.doon.gerong; [Butherballuk, Taungurung]
3. The Wor.rile.lum, a large tribe inhabiting the country down the Goulburn River by the Murray, east side; [likely Ngurai-illum, or alternatively a Pangerang clan on the lower Goulburn]
4. And the Pine.ger.rines, a large tribe inhabiting the country on the south and southwest banks of the Murray.’ [Pangerangs]

At this point in time Robinson is aware that the Bal.lin.go.yal.lums are a section (local group) from a larger ‘Ovens tribe’, but still unsure that the ‘Ovens tribe’ is called ‘Wee.her.roo’ [ie: Waywurru, Waveroo], so he has written a note to himself (as he does at other places in his journals) to ‘queri’ this information. For now I will say that the debates about ‘Waywurru’ constitute a different discussion to the one in this post, but it is worth noting that modern-day descendants of Pallangan-middang tend to identify as ‘Waywurru’. However, what is relevant to this post is that Robinson makes a clear distinction between the ‘Bal.lin.go.yal.lums’ who are an Ovens River clan, and the ‘Pine.ger.rines’ (Pangerang), who are a Murray River clan. His query about Waywurru seems to have been answered after he ‘spent time in conversation with the natives,’ on the 23 of April 1840. After this time he tends to refer to the Waywurru as a ‘nation’ (of which Pallangan-middang is a constituent part). Two other contemporary sources (squatters Benjamin Barber and David Reid) agree with Robinson, referring to a ‘Weeroo’ and ‘Weiro’ broad group in the area. [6]

Specifically, Benjamin Barber wrote from Barnawatha in 1841: ‘there are three distinct tribes in this neighbourhood, the Hume or Uradgerry [Wiradjuri], the Weiro [Waywurru] or Ovens, and the Unangan [Pangerang], or Lower Hume…’ [6b] It is also worth noting that in the geographical sensibilities of the day ‘Lower Hume’ generally meant downstream from Albury.

Visit of February 1841: By the end of 1840, Robinson was organising to have some Aboriginal men from North East Victoria released from gaol in Melbourne; and after talking with each, he takes down their details. The first man he organises to be released is Pallangan-middang man, Min.nup (Merriman), on 28 December 1840. [5] In taking the details of the various men being released, Robinson finds that several of these men describe Bontharambo (just out of Wangaratta) as their ‘native country’. For instance, on 10 December 1840, he records ‘Jag.ger.rog.er, conferred name Harlequin, belonging to the Pal.len.go.illum section of the Wavaroo tribe, country between the Broken River [Benalla] and Hume [Murray River], … locality at Pan.der.ram.bo.go [Bontharambo], Docker’s Plains’. On 2 January 1841 Robinson spoke with Wine.ger.rine (aka. Parngurite, conferred name Lare.re) who ‘belongs to the tribe of Wavoroo, section 1. Pal.len.go.mittum, 2. Pal.len.go.mit.tite, native locality Pan.der.ram.bo.go. On the 3 February 1841 Robinson organises for three men to be released from gaol, including ‘Mul.lo.nin.ner, alias Joe, Pal.len.gen.mit.ty, country Panderambo; stating further that he ‘is married, wife’s name Kone.ner.ro.ke country Panderambo. Joe is about 18 years.’

Robinson escorts three of these men back to North East Victoria. When they reach 15 Mile Creek, on 8 February 1841, Mul.lo.nin.ner tells Robinson ‘the country at 15 Mile Creek belongs to Pallengo.il.lum to Hone.ne.ap and Mo.me.gin.ner, two blacks who belong to the 15 Mile Creek at the place where the drays stop.’ (Fifteen Mile Creek is the former name for Glenrowan.) It is worth noting that Mul.lo.nin.ner (Joe), is well placed to relate this information, as he is married to Kone.ner.ro.ke, who is a sister to Min.nup (Merriman), and that Hone.ne.ap is one of Meriman’s ‘three fathers’ (in Aboriginal kinship systems, Merriman’s paternal uncles would also be considered ‘fathers’). In other words, Joe is Merriman’s brother-in-law and is Hone.ne.ap’s son-in-law.

By Tuesday 9 February 1841, the party has made it to Joseph Docker’s Bontharambo station, where Robinson meets with a large gathering of at least 150 Aboriginal people including ‘Pingerines… Worilum, Pallengoillum, Yarranillum, Butherbulluc.’ He later adds that he held communication with parts of four nations, viz:

  1. Urungung [ie: Wiradjuri name for Pangerang (refer to Robinson, 25.41840)]
  2. Waradgery [ie: Wiradjuri]
  3. Dorngorong [ie: Taungurung]
  4. Waveroo

The number of Aboriginal people present at Bontharambo on this occasion, of different broader groups and local groups, demonstrates that the mere presence of these various people together at Bontharambo did not confer ownership of that country: in other words, there were plenty of ‘visitors’. This should surprise no one, when one considers that Joseph Docker was sympathetic to Aboriginal people, and his station Bontharambo was a safe harbour in a landscape awash with frontier violence. However, it is only Pallanganmiddang people who tell Robinson that Bonthrambo is their native locality. Moreover, Robinson notes on 11 February 1841, ‘The Pingerines are going away to their own country.’ This further indicates the status of the Pangerang as visitors at Bontharambo, like the Wiradjuri and Taungurung.

Visit of September 1844: George Augustus Robinson visited ‘the Hume’ (Albury-Wodonga) in late September 1844, where he once again met Mul.lo.nin.ner (Joe). He found Mul.lo.nin.ner in the company of  large gathering of 250 people, including many people from southern Wiradjuri local groups. Mul.lo.nin.ner immediately recognised Robinson, and over the course of two days furnished him with information, including a vocabulary of Pallanganmiddang language.

On 30 September 1844, Robinson noted: ‘Pal.ler.an.mit.ter: belong to Nar.rar, called Little River where Mr Huon’s station; language spoken is different to the Way.rad.jerre.’ (Wiradjuri). The ‘Mr Huon’ referred to here is Aime Huon who held a station on the ‘Little River’ (now known as the Kiewa River), which was named after its location ‘Merimarenbung’ [ie Mount Murramurrangbong]. Robinson took down the names of 22 Pallanganmiddang people at this gathering, and the same day he also took down a vocabulary from Mul.lo.nin.ner (Joe), which is prefaced by the statement ‘Pal.loo.ang.mitter, Nac.in.don.dy or Nack.cer.an.dy, speak language Min.u.bud.dong.’ [ie: Pallanganmiddang at Yackandandah speak Min.u.bud.dong.] The following day Robinson recorded a second vocabulary list with Joe, which is described more simply as as ‘Pal.ler.an.mitter language‘.

Through the 1840s and 1850s, and in some cases right up to the 1870s, identifiable individuals from the Pallanganmiddang show up in many stories and reports in locations from Wodonga to Mount Murramurrangbong, Tangambalanga, Yackandandah, Barwidgee, Beechworth, Stanley, Whorouly, Milawa, Oxley, Tarrawingee and Wangaratta. The evidence of their movement through their country is literally a historical confetti of stories and connections (too much to relate here), but these ‘adventures’ virtually never extend beyond the geographical extent originally outlined by the Aboriginal informants of Robinson and Thomas in the 1840s, and by William Barak in the latter 19th century.

However, one thing is clear: the newspaper reports of the Aboriginal people who visit Beechworth in 1858 and 1858 describe this group as led by Merriman and his father, ‘King Billy’ of Barwidgee, and the article clearly states that this  group make a point of visiting Beechworth as a part of their country: ‘They pay periodical visits to every part of their district, always reaching Beechworth about the time when the races come off’. [7] From all the evidence, we know that King Billy and his son Merriman, are Pallanganmiddang people.

You can read about King Billy and his clan in the post ‘Were Aboriginal people in Beechworth in the 1850s? (Following a new lead)’.

Pallanganmiddang language

In the mid-1990s, linguists Julie Reid and Barry Blake, identified on the basis of vocabularies collected in the 19th century (including those collected by George Augustus Robinson), that the Pallanganmiddang spoke a distinctive language, which is markedly different from Wiradjuri to the north and was also not a language belonging to the ‘Kulin cultural bloc’ (such as Taungurung to the south). On the basis of what we know, the language shares 25% of its vocabulary in common with Bpangerang/Yorta Yorta, and 21% in common with Dhudhuroa.  In the words of Blake and Reid, ‘It seems likely that Pallanganmiddang represents a language quite distinct from those of its neighbours.’ [8] This language is a cultural difference which sets Pallanganmiddang apart from its neighbours.

Linguistically, the two vocabulary lists that Mul.lo.nin.ner (Joe) gave Robinson in 1844 are the same language, even though only one list is prefaced by the information that Pallanganmiddang speak ‘Min.u.bud.dong’. This suggests that the name of Pallanganmiddang clan language is in fact ‘Min.u.bud.dong’, or at the very least that Min.u.bud.dong is an alternative name for Pallanganmiddang language. For his part, Dr Ian Clark has suggested, ‘that Minubuddong is a Wiradjuri exonym applied to the Pallanganmiddang.’ [9]

The same language term appears in only one other known historical source (appearing as a cognate), recorded when ethnographer R.H. Mathews interviewed Dhudhuroa man Neddy Wheeler, around five decades after Robinson spoke with Mul.lo.nin.ner (Joe). From the information Mathews gathered from Wheeler, he wrote that ‘Minyambuta, a dialect of the Dhudhuroa, was the speech of the tribe occupying the Buffalo, King, Ovens and Broken Rivers and the tributaries of these streams’ [10]. Mathews also records that ‘Minyambuta’ was spoken at Buffalo, Beechworth, Wangaratta, and Bright. [11]

When Mathews recorded ‘Minyambuta’ as a dialect of Dhudhuroa, his interpretation seems to have given rise to the idea that the Dhudhuroa peoples’ territory extended from their core country in the Mitta Mitta Valley to as far as Wangaratta (and this is actually illustrated as such on some published maps). However, modern linguists now suggest that ‘Pallanganmiddang’ language, which seems to also be known as ‘Min.u.bud.dong’ language, or by its cognate ‘Minyambuta’ language, was largely a different language to Dhudhuroa. Ian Clark states, ‘If Minyambuta is a variant of Minubuddong, which is probable, then Mathews (1909) was wrong to consider it a Dhudhuroa dialect.’ [12] Certainly, the area in which Neddy Wheeler says Minyambuta was spoken overlaps heavily with many of the locations claimed as Pallanganmiddang country in other sources, which caused Diane Barwick to consider that ‘Minjambuta’ simply referred to Pallanganmiddang. [13] (The exception to this rule does seem to be that Minjambuta was also spoken at Broken River (Benalla), which is country belonging to the Yeerŭn-illŭm local group [of the Taungurung]. However, this anomaly could be accounted for by the fact that the Yeerŭn-illŭm may have resorted to using Minyambuta language to communicate with their Pallanganmiddang neighbours.)


When looking at the primary historical evidence, there are references which clearly place the Pallanganmiddang ‘on country’ from Glenrowan, across to the King Valley, Whorouly, Beechworth, Yackandandah, Mount Murramurrangbong, the lower Kiewa River, Wangaratta and Bontharambo.

In all of the historical primary source materials located in state and national archives — including materials written from direct communication with Aboriginal people — it is notable that the Pallanganmiddang people are the only people who make claims of connection to the country from Wangaratta, up the Ovens Valley, over the Beechworth plateau and across to the lower Kiewa Valley. There is not a single historical reference directly connecting Pangerang to these places as owners of that country as opposed to being visitors, and although modern-day people may differ in their opinions, nor is there a single historical reference from which it can be inferred that Pallanganmiddang are a group within the Pangerang tribe. Moreover, in the historical sources I have not found a single individual who identifies as Pangerang anywhere east of Wodonga and Wangaratta; in other words there are no records of Pangerang people at all east of the line which has become the Hume Freeway. What we do find are references to the Mogullumbidj around Mount Buffalo, and of course the Dhudhuroa (aka Dodoro, or Theddora-mittung, not much further east). There are, however, numerous historical sources which talk about Pangerang in other locations much further west.

Current claims that Pallanganmiddang country is within the Taungurung nation, and also the notion that Pallanganmiddang is a clan of Dhudhuroa, are a far more complex and interesting questions to me, from an ethno-historical point of view, which deserve substantial discussion in their own right.

Post-script: An article written decades after European colonisation in 1887, about a group of Aboriginal ‘missionaries’ travelling the North East from Maloga mission to preach Christianity, reported that one of the group was Aboriginal man named Paddy Swift, who ‘aged 40, belongs to the Nanga tribe of Oxley. ‘”There was, a great crowd of my people there” he says, “but I do not think there are 20 left now.”‘ [14] Accounting for poor journalistic transcription, I see a possible correlation between ‘Nanga’ and ‘Pallangan’. Equally, ‘Nanga’ could have been a poor transcription of the Wiradjuri word for Pangerang, ‘Unangan’. However, I now think the most likely explanation is that Nanga is in fact referring to ‘Thilingananga’ — the original name adopted for the pastoral run at what was later renamed ‘Bruarong’. Interestingly, the ‘tribal’ name used by non-Aboriginal people by the early 20th century to refer to the people occupying the same general area was the ‘Barwidgees’ (the name of the adjoining pastoral run), and finally,  we also know that ‘King Billy of Barwidgee’ and his people also occupied Oxley.

Post-script 2: I also note that the name ‘Wangaratta’, which is local history books is said to be ‘Aboriginal for resting place of cormorants’, bares a linguistic relation to the Waywurru word for brolga, birranga. As we do not have the word for ‘cormorants’ in any local vocabulary, it is possible that the word was a category applied to tall waterbirds and applied to both brolgas and cormorants.


[1a] Alfred Howitt, notebook hw0436, State Library of Victoria, ‘Notes by Howitt on Omeo ‘tribe’ and letter from Bulmer’, p.3; this explanation is given: ‘Mittŭng = a number, or many [people]’.

[1b] Alfred Howitt, Original field notebook catalogued as XM759, held at the Museum of Victoria, p.6.

[2] William Thomas, William Thomas Papers, 1834-1868, 1902, Mitchell Library MS 214, Box 23, Section 1 (Book A (Microfilm CY 3130), p.65, 68. Transcript courtesy Dr Stephen Morey.
In the same notebook, an informant by the name of Gibberook, who was the son of ‘Netkulluk’, ‘King’ the ‘Yerren Nillum’ (Yeerŭn-illŭm) clan of the Taungurung tribe, offers a list of ‘ten sections’ (clans) and their ‘chiefs’ (clan heads); and in that list he includes more of what are now commonly understood to be Taungurung clans, but excludes Ballinggon-willum — which is interesting, considering Yeerŭn-illŭm and Ballinggon-willum are geographical neighbours.

[3] Here I have used as a guide to Taungurung clans Diane E. Barwick, ‘Mapping the Past: An Atlas of Victorian Clans 1835-1904’. Aboriginal History, Vol. 8, 1984: 100-131.

William Thomas later reported to the Select Committee of the Legislative Council of the Aborigines given in 1858 (Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council of the Aborigines , 1858-59 p. 68),

‘Between the five nearest tribes to Melbourne there is a kind of confederacy or relationship, which, I apprehend, is followed out throughout the length and breadth of Victoria. Thus, the Yarra, Western Port, Geelong, Goulburn, and Devil’s River tribes, though continually quarrelling, nevertheless are in a degree united; and to accomplish (or force) this united interest, according to their laws, marriages are not contracted in their own tribe – for instance, a Yarra man must get himself a wife, not out of his own tribe, but either of the other tribes. In like manner a Goulburn must get his lubra from the Yarra, Devil’s River, Western Port, or Geelong tribe. Thus a kind of social compact is formed against any distant tribe who might intrude upon their country, when all unite to expel the intruder…’

[4] Ian Clark [ed.], The Journal of George Augustus Robinson, Chief Protector, Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate, 1839-1852, published by Ian Clark, 2014. NB: For all references to Robinson I have provided the journal entry dates rather than a page number. This should enable the read who wishes to check references to pick up any published edition of Robinson’s journal and check the reference.

[5] On the 20 December, Robinson organises for Min.nup (Merriman) to be released from gaol. At the time, he takes down this information: ‘Min.nup says he has three fathers: 1. Lang.wal.lurt, 2. Hon.ne.ap, 3. Sue.wat.ware.rum. He says he has two brothers: 1. Way.be.mur.ram, 2. Taw.row, one sister: Kone.ne.roke. This is important contextual information in terms of demonstrating Merriman’s relationship to country, given that Hon.ne.ap’s country is 15 Mile Creek (Glenrowan).

[6] Marie Hansen Fels, ‘These Singular People — The Ovens Blacks, Supplementary Report,’ 28th July 1997 (unpublished technical report prepared for the Yorta Yorta Native Title Claim), p.8.

[6b] Letter from Benjamin Barber, in ‘Replies to the following Circular Letter on the subject of the Aborigines, addressed to gentlemen residing too remote from Sydney, to expect the favour of their personal attendance upon the Committee, in Select Committee Enquiry into Immigration, NSW Legislative Council, 1841; David Reid in ‘Aboriginal Population 1860, The Argus, Friday 5 October, 1860. p.5.

[7] ‘Fashionable Arrivals’, Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Wednesday 23 February, 1859, p.2

[8] Barry J. Blake and Julie Reid, ‘Pallanganmiddang: a language of the Upper Murray,’ Aboriginal History, 1999, Vol. 23, pp.15-30; this direct quote on p.17.

[9] Ian Clark, ‘Aboriginal languages in North-east Victoria – the status of ‘Waveru’ reconsidered’, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 2011, Vol. 14(4): pp.2-22; this direct quote on p.5.

[10] R. H. Mathews, MS8006, Series 5, File 3, Box 6, National Library of Australia.

[11] R. H. Matthews, MS 8006, Series 3, Item 4, Volume 2 [Marked on notebook ‘6’], National Library Australia.

[12] Clark, ibid, p.7.

[13] ibid.

[14] ‘An Aboriginal Revival’, The Corowa Free Press, Friday 25 February 1887, p 5.

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